Archives for category: Donostia-San Sebastián

Bandstand – green-painted iron, wrought iron from Zaragoza. Complex design of leaves and flowers. Dirty stained glass continues the theme of foliage, crawling like ivy. Sellotape attached to the posts where banners and placards from demonstrations and protests have been held up. New roof – clean fresh wood contrasts with grubby iron. USES – bands – not very often – elderly crowds reliving the past – bands usually municipal. Demonstrations. Kids playing – spinning tops/gymnastics.

Shelter from the rain.

Previously roads on both sides, but now pedestrianised, in summer blocked by terrible hip-hop crews and other buskers. Base/stage – reddish stone, looks like marble. Must have been popular at the time because there is a lot of it about. Adjacent lampposts from 1885 with the city emblem (a galleon/sailing ship) and more foliage. Large clock on post – white-painted iron from nearby Lasarte. The clock is a meeting place. There is a bar named after it. It is notoriously expensive.

There is nothing happening now. People wandering/stopping/chatting. Later there will be children. A woman goes up onto the stage for no apparent reason, but it turns out she is having her photograph taken, thus spoiling my thesis that there are no tourists about today. Children on scooters whizz about while their parents sort out a shopping bag full of new flip-flops. Water filtrations in the base of the bandstand cause chemical reactions like the inside of a cave. Belle Époque. Birds drink from puddles in manhole covers.

Below us lie the remains of the old city walls. You can see them, behind Perspex, if you go down the to the car park.

Silver spinning things on chimney pots are gleaming and glinting in the sun. Some above me to the left, requiring me to lift my head; others on the far side of the bay, right in my line of sight (providing no buses are stopped at the traffic lights).

Some people are in shorts; some people are in anoraks and bodywarmers. Someone carrying multiple loaves of bread. Tourists, pasty-faced and pointless, moving from A to maybe B. A couple start feeding the sparrows and pigeons. The pigeons widen their search while the sparrows remain focused. The man gets down on his haunches and starts sprinkling crumbs. Other pigeons gather on the edge of the bandstand roof. They weren’t there before. They preen: surely a hopeless task for these disease-ridden scruffs.

A pane of stained glass is missing, letting through the bright green of leaves and the bright blue sky. A rollerblader zigzags. A senior citizen in a fluorescent green t-shirt, cyclist sunglasses and cap. Two purple foil balloon remains are trapped in the trees.

Pictures (by someone else, not me) are available here:


At Anoeta, the Real Sociedad football stadium, they love to try artificial means of boosting participation and vocalising support. Thankfully, most people just ignore them and sink further into the seats, a halo of embarrassment hovering above the stadium’s 25-year-old concrete crown of thorns architecture, which is about to undergo a “remodelling” which will make it look like every other modern football stadium in the world. Whenever Real Sociedad win a corner, the Tannoy system plays the drumbeat from Queen’s rabble-rousing anthem We Will Rock You. We supporters are supposed to clap along or something. But it is not the original Queen version, and the original Queen version is not a drumbeat anyway. It is four people stamping on microphoned-up wooden boards, a technique gleaned from Motown records such as Where Did Our Love Go by The Supremes. In the case of Motown, the stomping was done by a little kid of Italian origin who used to hang around the studio. You can read all about this, and even find out his name, if so inclined. I know about Queen and their wooden boards because I watched a DVD of their videos with the commentary switched on. It was very cold when they did their video (in somebody’s garden). I expect they wore bovver boots. If you are walking for any length of time, it is best not to wear bovver boots because they are too heavy. This very heavisosity is what makes them ideal for board-stomping. The Real Sociedad version of We Will Rock You, besides lacking the depth, resonance and tension of bovver boots stomping on wooden boards, is slightly too fast. I think the handclaps are machine generated and therefore tinny. Consequently, Real Sociedad rarely score from corners. I sold the Queen DVD, which is a shame, because I now have a strong urge to watch it and marvel at its inconsequentiality. I once went to an exhibition of Queen paraphernalia in an old warehouse or workshop near Brick Lane. I am not much bothered about Queen, but it was an interesting diversion. Google suggests Freddie Mercury generally wore normal Adidas shoes, which is a bit of a let-down for the purposes of this essay. I suppose his onstage exertions ruled out bovver boots or glam rock platform shoes. I could buy the Queen DVD again second-hand, but by the time it arrives I will have snapped out of the urge to watch it. Besides, it was mostly just them moaning about Top of the Pops camera angles. Despite the tinny quality of the recording used at the football, it is hard not to tap your feet along (quietly). In winter, such foot-stomping is the best way to keep warm, or at least freeze slightly less. The footballers, whose professional title exalts the role of feet more than any other, nowadays wear boots of many colours, usually fluorescent. My daughter asks me why. The only reason I can come up with is because they draw the attention of television viewers, helping to sell more pairs of replica boots down at the sports shop. Conversely (pun intended), football boots are now much cheaper than they used to be. Presumably, this is because they no longer use leather, at least at kiddie level. The most prominently displayed boots in the shops are those bearing the name of either Messi or Ronaldo, tax-dodgers both.

At a recent football match a plastic seat landed on my head and those of my neighbour and a small child sitting in front. It was a shock. I looked up, only to see the creaking concrete underside of the tier above. My neighbour on the other side, untouched but touchy, turned around and started yelling, demanding to know the identity of the culprit. It was obvious who was responsible for the flying seat: the spotty gorm sitting behind an empty space where a seat used to be. It transpired that he had, in a fit of pique designed to signal his displeasure at a missed opportunity by the home team, booted the seat in front of him, and said seat had gone flying. He was keeping very quiet while the accusations were flying, with the falsely-accused defending themselves a little over-zealously, spit-flecks flying. The small child sitting in front of me was in tears, more from the shock of receiving a bucket seat blow to the head than the pain engendered. By now, the culprit was standing up in a faux-aggressive stance, bellowing, “Come here and say that!” to the assembled haranguers. Because I thought the crying child deserved better, I lifted my feet one by one over the back of my seat to the row behind, willing my body to defy gravity, and repeated the process twice more until I was standing on the same row as the culprit and gently pointed out to him that he had done an idiotic thing, that I knew it wasn’t intentional, but it might be a good idea to just apologise instead of going on the warpath. He did apologise (to me) but his mother or whatever was vociferous in his defence because he hadn’t done it on purpose. I said that intentions were immaterial in the face of a crying child. The final whistle blew and people started heading for the exits and that was that. I am normally a very calm person, inclined to keep out of things. I do not hurl abuse at the referee or the opposition and I do not gesticulate wildly in what often appears to me to be a pre-scripted dance of pseudo-aggression, so this minor incident made me wonder what I was doing there at the football stadium, and it took me a few hours to regain my usual level of composure. The reactions of those around me had been a surprise. There has been no trouble since, although I have noticed that some of the people involved have not returned. The moral of this story is never kick a stadium seat because they are not as firmly attached as they look.

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